What I’m Reading: A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
What I’m Watching: I am mostly skipping TV currently…
What I’m Listening to: The podcast Laughter Permitted with Julie Foudy
As more and more residents and employees get vaccinated, we are hearing a call for our workplaces begin to “return to normal”, but what is the new normal for our work lives?
What are we going to do in our organizations this year and beyond to support our employees? What work norms should be here to stay and what should we part ways with?
I think remote work in government should be here to stay. In Wauwatosa, we are in the process of rolling out a permanent remote work policy. As a manager, I have been spending time with the individuals I support to understand what their ideal work environment is moving forward and to empower them to make that vision a reality.
Something I think we need to part ways with is the expectation that we are available 24/7. Many local government employees have played a role in emergency response over the past year. Our computers are at home and it is easy to quickly resolve an issue. It also creates the impression in our organizations that we are “always available” for work. We need to reset this boundary.
Something I hope is here to stay is a new cultural norm at work – don’t come into the office when you are sick, even if you are just mildly ill. This year for the first time we didn’t have weeks of flu or colds running around our government offices and it was amazing. The idea that we just have too much to do and must work when sick is outdated. Plus, if you really have a deadline, just pop up from home that day and show your regard for your colleagues’ health and wellness.
Our wellness is so important. Let’s make sure our EAP (employee assistance program) benefits meet today’s mental health needs. We should continue to encourage supervisors in our organizations to connect with their employees frequently, ask how they are, and meet their individual needs as best we can.
Work days being 8 to 5 for everyone is a thing of the past. Can an employee do their job successfully while working a different schedule? Empower them to do it.
As employers, managers, and colleagues, now is the time to continue to be nimble and create a work environment that works for our employees’ work/life experience that also meets our business needs. I look forward to reporting back next year on successes and lessons learned from our remote work policy.